• October 24, 2012

By an almost unbroken line of authority in this country and England, a party who files a pleading or affidavit in a judicial proceeding has absolute immunity, though his statements are defamatory and malicious, if they relate to the subject of inquiry.

We get that. But in this day and age, bad news and bad press travels far and fast.  And what if allegations in a legal complaint are false?  The Minnesota-based law firm of Gurstel Chargo is getting negative nation-wide attention and what is its recourse if the allegations are false as the firm says?

It can only seek to set the record straight in the “court of public opinion” and in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, where the case against Gurstel Chargo is venued.

A highly unflattering lawsuit brought this national press attention (“The Worst Debt Collector in the World?”) and this attention in a trade publication.  “The allegations in the Complaint are simply not true,” the law firm protests.  (The amended complaint is here.)

We are all vulnerable to untrue and true statements that can travel around the planet at the speed of light perpetually for decades.  The internet is an informational gold mine laced with fool’s gold and worse.

Minnesota Litigator has no insight into the truth or falsity of the allegations against Gurstel Chargo but is it a matter of time before the ambiguous quality of the exabytes of information on the internet irreparably compromises its enormous informational power?

[Answer: No.  Granted you can find just about any conspiracy theory you might ever want on the internet.  But you can, of course, as easily find their discredit.  Still, this does not mean anything about a single false allegation or the damage that a single false (or even just exaggerated) allegation can cause individuals and businesses on the web or elsewhere.  And the difference, of course, is the breadth of distribution.]

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